HealthDay News — Infants born to women who have undergone Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery have a lower risk for major birth defects than those born to matched control women, according to a study published in the Oct. 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Martin Neovius, Ph.D., from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, and colleagues conducted a nationwide matched cohort study to examine major birth defect risk in infants born to women after gastric bypass surgery versus those born to comparable women who did not undergo bariatric surgery. Matched controls were included for 97.4 percent of the 2,998 postsurgery-born infants.

The researchers found that in the surgery group, mean weight loss was 40 kg and diabetes drug use declined from 9.7 percent before surgery to 1.5 percent in the six months preceding conception. Overall, major birth defects were recorded in 3.4 and 4.9 percent of infants born to mothers with gastric bypass surgery and controls, respectively (risk ratio, 0.67). Among postsurgery-born infants, major heart defects accounted for 60 percent of birth defects. No cases of neural tube defects were identified in the surgery group compared with 20 cases (0.07 percent) in the control group.

“If the observed association is true, a mechanism could be that surgery-induced improvements in glucose metabolism, and potentially other beneficial physiologic changes, led to a reduction of major birth defect risk to a level similar to that of the general population (3.5 percent),” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical industry.

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